World stocks on edge over trade worries

Roland JACKSON
The China-US trade row is back on investors' minds

Global stock markets diverged Monday, with a weak pound lifting London's benchmark index, and trade war concerns weighing on equities elsewhere.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt stocks dipped and Paris rose a touch as US President Donald Trump eyed fresh tariffs on a swathe of Chinese goods -- while NAFTA talks with Canada appeared to hit a wall.

"Stock markets in Europe have had a good session considering the multitude of ongoing issues," said CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden.

"President Trump has reverted to a tough stance with both the EU and Canada regarding trade deals. He has proven once again that he is unpredictable."

US markets were closed for the Labor Day holiday, depriving European markets of the guidance and trading volumes that Wall Street usually provides.

In a tweet over the weekend, Trump threatened to exclude Canada from a new North American Free Trade Agreement after negotiations to rewrite the 1994 pact ended without agreement.

Trump had already roiled markets last week by saying he wanted to impose tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports as soon as public consultation ends on Thursday, adding to the $50 billion already targeted.

That rekindled fears of an all-out trade war between the world's top two economies.

Asian stock markets opened the week on a negative note, with Tokyo closing down 0.7 percent, Hong Kong losing 0.6 percent and Shanghai shaving 0.2 percent off its key index.

- Brexit division hits pound -

London equities meanwhile jumped by one percent on Monday on the back of a slide in the pound which boosted the share prices of multinationals.

Sterling sank on growing political acrimony over British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit blueprint, and after weak UK manufacturing survey data.

Pro-Brexit figurehead Boris Johnson labelled May's plan a surrender that hands "victory" to the European Union, ahead of the nation's exit from the bloc in March 2019.

The EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier remains "strongly" opposed to her blueprint, saying it could lead to the downfall of European integration.

"The Brexit optimism of last week has been predictably fleeting, with Barnier ripping Theresa May's Chequers plans into shreds," noted IG analyst Joshua Mahony.

Meanwhile 20 MPs in May's centre-right Conservative Party publically pledged to reject her so-called Chequers plan, which would keep Britain close to the EU on trade.

Britain is set to leave the bloc on March 30, but the two sides want to strike the divorce agreement by the October 18-19 EU summit to give their parliaments enough time to endorse a deal.

Elsewhere on currency markets, Turkey's lira reversed earlier losses as the country's central bank said it would take the "necessary actions to support price stability".

The comment followed data showing inflation hit a 15-year high of 17.9 percent last month as a dive in the currency -- it is down about 40 percent this year -- filters through to consumers via the price of goods.

However, the bank has refused to lift interest rates to combat the surging prices, putting pressure on the embattled Turkish economy.

Iran's embattled currency, the rial, hit another all-time low against the US dollar in spite of central bank efforts to stem its decline.

- Key figures around 1540 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 1.0 percent at 7,504.60 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 percent at 12,346.41 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.1 percent at 5,413.80 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 3,394.76

New York - CLOSED for public holiday

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.7 percent at 22,707.38 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.6 percent at 27,712.54 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 2,720.73 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1622 from $1.1602 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2879 from $1.2960

Dollar/yen: UP at 111.07 yen from 111.03 yen

Oil - Brent Crude: UP 62 cents at $78.26 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 35 cents at $70.15

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